GALLE: With already 366 wickets in his bag from 79 Tests Sri Lanka’s greatest left-arm spinner Rangana Herath is eyeing the 400-wicket mark before he finally quits from cricket.
At 38 Herath is one of the oldest Test cricketer around and with his troubled knees he still keeps on bowling his country to Test victories even on surfaces that are not conducive to spin.
The Galle pitch for the first Test against Bangladesh was far from the traditional turners the venue is renowned for. Even on the fifth day the pitch was good enough for batting and if not for Bangladesh batsmen’s inexperience of handling spin on that kind of surface any other side would have batted out a draw.
“I have no regrets. I have already played 79 Tests and I am happy with whatever I have achieved so far. I wish I go on and take 400 wickets,” said Herath after leading his team from the front by capturing six wickets in the second innings.
“Only a few legends of the game have taken 400 Test wickets. So that will be great. I don’t know if will have this form always. I am looking forward to do my job for the team. I don’t know how long I will go on. But I would like to get to 400 wickets,” he said.
Describing the final day’s play Herath said, “Playing on the fifth day is not easy. We had a lead of 450 and it’s tough especially playing against three spinners. Dilruwan (Perera) and (Lakshan) Sandakan gave a lot of support as well and it was not easy to bat in the fourth innings and go after 400 runs.
“They had got off a good start scoring 67 for the first wicket. In Galle batting on the fourth innings naturally they would have been under pressure. I had lots of hope on our bowlers Perera and Sandakan. 450 is not an easy target so I had lot of belief.
“We had a few chats about their weak points and we knew what to do. We unearthed a few more in this game and we look forward to work on those and prepare for the next game,” Herath said.
Becoming the highest wicket-taker as a left-arm spinner Herath said that he was very pleased with the effort.
“I have been playing the attacking role of the spinner and while doing that I am glad to have achieved that milestone. I would like to thank all my friends, family and coaches and everyone. I don’t want to single out anyone,” Herath said.
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim described Herath as a champion bowler and said that he was one of the biggest threats to his side when they arrived in Sri Lanka.
“I would like to congratulate him on his achievement. Hopefully he will continue for long years for Sri Lanka. But still, the batsmen did not apply themselves on the wicket. There was nothing wrong with the wicket. If we could have stuck to our basics, ball after ball, then the session could have gone either way,” said Rahim.
“If we lost max one or two in the first session then I think the last two sessions could have been a different ball game. There are lots of areas to work on and we don’t have enough time, but there is one more game to go and one more opportunity to come back in the series.”
Rahim blamed lack of application by his batsmen for their second innings batting display where they were dismissed for 197 in 60.2 overs.
“No matter how good the wicket is or how good the batsman is it takes only one ball if you are not mentally in the right place, don’t have the concentration or application,” said Rahim.
In that respect I will say that we were a lot behind, especially on such a good wicket on which they played so easily, especially the way Upul Tharanga scored his hundred in the second innings he did not face any problems.
“So from that viewpoint, the application was a source of disappointment as a captain. Last night, we had some hope after the way Soumya and Tamim batted. That gave us confidence, that at least if we could survive the first session or hour with minimal loss then we could advance to a draw.(Sunday Observer)